People of Aotearoa have got right behind those who have lost much in the wake of the Cyclone. The whole country seems to be doing what they can with many people making selfless contributions to those in affected areas.
Giving is varied, people are sharing their cooking, hosting the homeless, digging in with gumboots – making donations of time, capability and money. Creatives have also been doing their share and this is both a shout out and a call to action for support.
Across the motu musicians have been holding fundraising concerts with Aotearoa’s best musicians and performers in concert, in Wellington, Christchurch and lakeside Rotorua being just some of the venues.
In this regard the arts community never fails to amaze me. Their unerring ability to contribute when it’s needed is impressive, as more often than not artists and musicians are not particularly well off. Radio New Zealand reported the median personal salary for creative professionals was just $36 000 in 2019.
But contribute they do, to support those who took a hit from Cyclone Gabrielle.
Individual artists rallied and one such artist is Fiona Pardington. Pardington recently came to Te Matau-a-Māui Hawke’s Bay to photograph taxidermied huia held in the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust collection. Generously Pardington will donate the proceeds of the sale of a photograph to help with Hawke’s Bay’s rebuild.
Local dealer galleries have also partnered with their artists in responding to the disaster, offering up art work for sale where the proceeds go to one or other of the various relief funds.
Muse gallery was one such gallery actively supporting the rebuild through a fundraising exhibition of local artists. Muse is also hosting an online auction, the proceeds of which will go to cyclone relief.
The idea of ‘relief’ has broader meaning for artists Peter Madden and Richard Brimmer. Working with Auhuriri Contemporary Gallery the pair are putting together a cyclone relief exhibition. The exhibition features the works of poets and visual artists from across Aotearoa and is something that the pair hope will operate more holistically.
“The art work and poetry will, we hope, be a restorative experience. Relief from the effects of stress and anxiety which people are feeling”.
Proceeds from this fundraiser will benefit Waiohiki Marae. Waiohiki are a tightknit community and they are doing an incredible job Madden says “the marae are working with residents there to navigate what is in many cases, total loss. In areas worse hit, there are those who are independently resourced to rebuild and those who are not, though it will take a village to re-establish the community there. The marae is both on the ground with diggers and behind the scenes navigating longer term rebuild with their community.”
Whilst the money to do this is obviously needed, and the sale of art works will help there, Madden and Brimmer fully understand that art can offer assistance beyond the obvious financial support.
“Art allows us to examine what these experiences might mean, to voice and express a response and perhaps most importantly to bring people together”. Madden says.
So many of us have been buoyed by an incredible sense of community since the cyclone hit. Working together and sharing the same experience is powerful in such stricken circumstances. The arts has, and continues, to play a powerful role in that.
There will be creatives who have made individual and collective contributions that are not mentioned here, that’s a given – so to all those creatives out there giving generously – a heartfelt thank you because now more than ever we are seeing what community really is.
Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today newspaper 17 March 2023 and written by Toni MacKinnon, Curator Fine Arts at MTG Hawke’s Bay.
20 March 2023
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